Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on February 4th, 2014

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Programming as a 2nd language? I think it should be!

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The news is aflutter lately with the importance of teaching our children programming. In December, there was a solid push towards getting kids interested in coding with the successful "Hour of Code" campaign. Code.org reports that students wrote 500,000,000 lines of code as part of Computer Science Education Week. That's an awesome start! Two of our three kids participated, they even exceed the hour and they enjoyed it!

Yesterday, President Obama with the strong backing of AT&T, Apple, Sprint, Verizon and Microsoft pledged $750 million to bring high-speed internet, tablets, software, etc to US students! This is a great start. The New York Times ran a report that Diversity Problems in Tech are hitting as early as high school. The findings of this report show that the United States if falling behind in computer education. When statistics show that the job market for the computer field is rising higher than any other field this should be very alarming to parents as well as educators.

Anna Adam and Helen Mowers, recently blogged asking "Should Coding be the New Foreign Language Requirement"? I think they are pushing in the right direction. Last year, we as parents to a high school freshman were appalled that the graduation requirement for a senior to graduate in 2017 was only 1 semester! If we are falling behind in 2014 how on earth will that be adequate in 2017? We are setting our children up for a rough start in the job market, and perhaps failure.

Now, I am not saying that all of our children or American students should be programmers. But the facts are simple, as technology progresses some understanding of programming will be required in most job fields going forward. Many industries are switching to technology-based formats for positions in industries ranging from landscape designers to hockey coaches. Tablets and apps are being used as training modules, interactive sports playbooks and for architectural design to name a few. So, no matter what field American students are planning to enter they will undoubtedly require computer education if not programming. We see the importance of our children studying Spanish, French, German, etc. How can we then not see the importance of studying programming languages? These students will come into contact with things that rely on programming knowledge more than they will any other foreign language. Their worlds already revolve around smartphones, computers, and tablets. They are doing homework and submitting it digitally already. Shouldn't they have a solid foundation of how it all works?

It's time we all supported organizations like Code.org, Girls Who Code, Khan Academy and the like. We all need to follow in the footsteps of tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, AT&T, etc and make sure our future generations have a fighting chance!